Keys to a Healthy Soul - Clear the Weeds of Malice / Bullying
“I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts
which wage war against the soul.”
1 Peter 2:11 (NASB)
"Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit,
hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind."
1 Peter 2:1 (NIV)
Square Dancing Revealed Malice
In fourth grade many years ago, some educator or school committee thought dance classes a great addition to the Physical Education curriculum. So, there we were in that old little gym at Lowell Elementary School in North Minneapolis circa 1968.
Before us stood our heavy-set aging fifth grade teacher Mrs. M instructing us on the art and value of square dancing. This in Minneapolis mind you. Not somewhere out in West Kansas. Adding to our embarrassment and discomfort was Mrs. M’s attempt to demonstrate some square-dancing moves with the unfortunate boy that day in gym. Poor Calvin! After the dance moves, I knew I’d need psychiatric care the rest of my life. Still see portly Mrs. M. in that bright yellow dress with blue sun bursts calling out dosidos. It looked a little more like a WWE Match than any dancing I’d ever seen.
Doris the Undesirable
Then she divided the children into two groups. The boys in one line facing stood facing the girls in another line ten feet apart. Here’s where my prayer life discovered fervency. In the girl’s line stood Doris. No one liked nor wanted to dance with her. Doris was the most undesirable girl in the whole school. Why, I don’t know. There was nothing wrong with Doris. She wasn’t a horrible little person. Her only short coming was in her appearance.
Coming from a very poor home, she dressed unacceptably. Her clothes appeared tattered and ragged. Often her hair was unkempt. Usually, she arrived at school with her face unwashed. Added to this, was her sullen dejected look encompassed by a rather homely looking demeanor. Doris was our undesirable. She existed at the bottom of our pecking order. And, peck we did. Malice and bullying presented itself even in those early years in that fourth-grade dance class among those thirty-twelve-year old’s.
Wounding of Doris' Soul
As our teacher began to pair up each boy and girl, boys began to comment, “I hope I don’t get ugly Doris. Some of the girls called out, “Who’s going to get ugly Doris?” Those malicious comments hit their mark recurrently as Doris evidenced emotional pain grimacing and wincing with each comment. Her pain showed in her wounded eyes. A look she directed at me as the number of possible partners diminished.
Prayer of Malice
I prayed in my heart, “God, please, please, please, PLEASE not Doris, please not Doris God, God, please, please, please . . .” Then experiencing the disappointment of unanswered prayer, the teacher called out, “Don and Doris!” The reaction of my face communicated my message, “Doris, I don’t want you, I don’t want this. You’re not wanted or desired. Ugh, no, not YOU! Doris!” Added to both our embarrassment was a barrage of ugly little comments coming from the already paired couples, “Don got ugly Doris.” It was ugly alright, but the hideousness of that morning laid not to with Doris, but with us.
Malice wounded a lot of souls that day; ours, mine, and especially Doris’. I’ve often thought about Doris over the years. One might say, “Well, you were only children. It wasn’t that big a deal. You committed only a venial sin.” Hum, or was it a mortal sin? I wonder? How might Doris respond? Sure, we were kids. We were young. No one got hurt; maybe, honestly, not really. Self-inflicted harm fell upon us all that morning. Ill will, vindictiveness, and maleficence began in small kindling hearts.
Malice - Legal Sense
In a court of law, malice is often examined to discover “wrongful intention” and determine the level of guilt of a specific crime against a person.
Black’s Law Dictionary provides helpful understanding of the depth and intent of “malice.”
In its legal sense, this word does not simply mean ill will against a person, but signifies a wrongful act done intentionally, without just cause or excuse. A conscious violation of the law (or the prompting of the mind to commit it) which operates to the prejudice of another person. About as clear, comprehensive, and correct a definition is that "malice is a condition of the mind which shows a heart regardless of social duty and fatally bent on mischief, the existence of which is inferred from acts committed or words spoken. "Malice," in its common acceptation, means ill will towards some person.[ii] (Bold Face Mine)
Many lawsuits are won or lost based on whether malicious intent is proven. If a prosecutor can prove intent to do harm, a claim of innocence is in great doubt. Malice or lack thereof can determine the fate of the defendant.
Hurting another person is often well bedded in thought and action by age twelve. The average age to join a gang in the United States is between 14-16 years of age. It is during adolescence kids belonging to gangs maliciously injure communities throughout the United States.[iii] Malice begins small and metastasizes into ominous effect.
Bullying in Personal Sense
I wish perhaps to meet Doris again. I’ve often thought about her over the years. Wonder if she went to college, married, had kids, and enjoyed some sense of happiness in life. I’ve thought of what words I might use to reassure Doris of her value to God and me. How a request for forgiveness might be attempted. Not just for myself, but for the entire fourth grade class that day in gym. That old school and neighborhood are gone now, but Doris still lives on in my mind.
Our Culture of Malice
Watching the news outlets and medias also draws conclusions about intent. It appears the News isn’t so much about reporting news any longer. News reporting seeks more to discredit than report. Least that’s the way it looks to me.
Politicians join these ranks too. No longer is debate about policy and issues. It seeks to paint the bleakest picture of the other candidate’s character, integrity, and person. Politics is no longer about America. It’s about malice, inflicting the highest damage on the opponent’s character to win elections. Malice. Our country is rife with it from the highest level down to our streets.
Trickle down maleficence affects us. It’s our nature. To hurt one another. We do it often, we do it well, and we are lethal. It kills our souls, wounds our persons, and lessons us as a people.
Bullying's Malice - the Savaging of Our Souls
Maleficence chokes our soul’s goodness. Malice is an enemy destroying the good stuff in our soul’s garden. Left unattended, these invaders take over the soul. The bitter nasty crud crowds out love, goodness, and joy. Our souls become beds of thorns and briers. Painful to touch or draw close to. A lethal toxin.
Just My Thoughts,
Excerpt from Son Risings - Discovering and Caring for the Real You by Don Mingo